WISN expands 10 p.m. newscast

In a first for a Midwest Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) affiliate, Hearst’s WISN-TV in Milwaukee is expanding its 10 p.m. newscast from 35 minutes to an hour beginning January 24. The move sends NBC Universal’s Access: Hollywood (the current 10:35 p.m. occupant) to 12:30 a.m., after Jimmy Kimmel Live. Nightline retains the 11:05 p.m. slot, but now gets to lead-out of WISN’s newscast.

WISN is one of the few remaining ABC affiliates who continue to delay Nightline past the network-scheduled time of 11:35 pm ET/10:35 pm CT time slot. In the past, WISN has delayed Nightline to air more profitable first-run and off-network programming, including The Golden Girls, Home Improvement, Love Connection, M*A*S*H, etc. Sister station KMBC-TV in Kansas City, Mo. (also owned by Hearst) also delays Nightline for syndicated fare, as it has done since 1980.

In November, WISN eked out a victory in the late news race over NBC affiliate WTMJ in households, with Weigel’s CBS affiliate (WDJT) finishing third and Local TV’s Fox affiliate (WITI) bringing up the rear.

The only other Big 3 network affiliate currently running a 10 p.m. newscast is a network-owned station –CBS’ KOVR-TV in Sacramento, with their prime-time schedule running from 7 to 10 p.m.  However, its two rivals – NBC affiliate KCRA-TV (owned by Hearst) and ABC affiliate KXTV run their late newscasts at 11 p.m., the typical time a Big 3 network affiliate runs local news in the Pacific Time Zone. KOVR switched to an early prime-time schedule after switching from ABC to CBS in March 1995 to run in tandem with fellow CBS-owned KPIX-TV in nearby San Francisco, which had a 7-10 prime schedule from 1992-98.